There are a number of treatment protocols offered to patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, and surgery is one of the most common. Though treatment can be offered as a curative approach to those whose mesothelioma is diagnosed when they are in an early stage, it can also be provided to patients whose mesothelioma is advanced but is causing them pain. This is a palliative approach that is designed to improve comfort and quality of life. Unfortunately, there are some circumstances under which surgery is not a viable option for mesothelioma patients. This is a determination that is made by the physician in collaboration with the patient, and that is generally guided by factors such as the spread of the disease, the patient’s overall health at the time of diagnosis, the patient’s age and weight, and more. Surgery can also be used as a diagnostic tool when it is suspected that mesothelioma is causing a patient’s symptoms.
Curative Surgery for Mesothelioma
For those patients whose malignant mesothelioma has been diagnosed at an earlier stage, surgery has the potential to be curative. It is important to remember that when mesothelioma surgery is considered curative, it does not suggest that the patient will be entirely cured: instead, it offers the possibility of an extended survival rate with more opportunity for better quality of life. Patients who are eligible for this type of surgery face an extremely invasive procedure, and physicians generally do not offer this type of surgery unless a patient is in relatively good shape that will enable them to withstand the trauma to the body. For pleural mesothelioma, that generally means one of the two following surgeries:
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) – This invasive surgery involves removing not only the lining of the lungs where the cancer originated, but also part of the diaphragm, any lymph nodes in the immediate area, the lung in which the tumor is located, and the pericardium. These body parts are replaced with an artificial pericardium and an artificial diaphragm to accommodate and facilitate breathing in the future. Because the surgery is so radical, only patients whose cancer is not widespread and who are strong enough to withstand the surgery are offered the option.
- Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) – This is a less invasive surgery that involves removing only the pleural lining where the cancer originated and the pleural coating. It is easier to recover from, and can be offered to those patients who require palliative relief from the pressure and pain caused by tumors as well as for curative purposes.
When a patient undergoes surgery, there are always risks and side effects that need to be considered. In the case of patients undergoing either of these two surgeries, the most common complications include fatigue, infection, fever, pneumonia, blood clots, internal bleeding, and lung malfunction.
Palliative Surgery for Mesothelioma
Malignant mesothelioma is always considered to be a terminal illness, but that doesn’t mean that patients with the disease need to suffer. There are a number of palliative surgical procedures that can provide relief from pain and discomfort and which can improve the quality of the life that remains to them. In some cases, this involves reducing the size of a tumor, in others it may remove fluid that has accumulated in the lungs. Some of the most commonly performed palliative surgeries include:
- Thoracentesis – In this procedure, a needle or catheter is inserted into the lungs so that fluid that has built up can be drained and the patient can breathe more easily. The procedure is quick and relatively painless, and can be performed as often as needed.
- Pleurodesis – This is another method of removing fluid, but it involves making an incision in the chest wall and inserting a chest tube that removes fluid. After this is accomplished, a powdery substance is inserted into the chest to prevent fluid from building up again and to seal up the interior of the lungs. This procedure is not completed until the chest tube is removed a few days later.
- Paracentesis – This procedure is offered to those who require drainage of fluid in the sac that holds the heart. This area, called the pericardium, is punctured with a small needle in much the same way that thoracentesis is done in the lungs.
Diagnostic Surgery for Malignant Mesothelioma
Prior to providing any other protocols offered for malignant mesothelioma, physicians need to positively determine that mesothelioma is present as well as how far it has progressed. Diagnostic surgeries provide extensive information on the location of cancer. A surgeon will use a number of different techniques to remove tissue for evaluation and analysis. These methods include:
- Endoscopic Biopsy – This uses a tube called an endoscope that is inserted into the body to allow physicians a direct view of the cancerous cells.
- Incisional Biopsy – This procedure provides a small portion of cancerous tissue to be removed and sent to the laboratory for analysis and testing.
- Excisional Biopsy – This procedure removes a larger tissue sample for analysis.
- Core Biopsy – This procedure uses a large bore needle to remove a plug-shaped tissue sample for analysis.
- Fine Needle Biopsy – This procedure also uses a needle, but the needle is much smaller and less invasive, and can be used to remove either tissue or fluid samples for analysis.
In choosing what type of diagnostic surgery to perform, the mesothelioma physician will consider a number of different things, including:
- The patient’s overall health
- The patient’s preference
- The approximate location, shape and size of the tumor
- The physician’s comfort level and experience with different procedures
- The cancer’s stage
- The number of tumors that have been identified in the patient’s body via other diagnostic methods
When a patient’s cancer is presumed to be so far advanced that they are beyond curative surgery, the physician may choose to avoid these tests in favor of concentrating on the patient’s comfort. The goal in every malignant mesothelioma treatment strategy is to find the strategy and path that will provide them with the most benefit and the lowest degree of stress and pain.
USAEP claim managers help those who have developed mesothelioma or other asbestos-connected injuries to get the damages they may be entitled to in financial compensation. To maximize the chance of victory in the legal battle, you must hire an efficient Portland mesothelioma attorney. To find a top mesothelioma lawyer in Portland we provide either on the site or through a claims manager a variety of free support tools and information options. At the top of every page is a button that reads “Click to File Your Claim” which provides a form to start your claim. Furthermore, in the right margin on most pages you’ll see a form to get an information package on trustfunds and below that is our asbestos claim calculator. Please call us at 800-793-4540 to speak to a claims manager.